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2726 S. Brentwood Blvd. St. Louis MO 63144

25 People Indicted on Fraudulently Obtaining Unemployment Benefits

The St. Louis Post – Dispatch reports that twenty-five people have been indicted in the states of Missouri and Illinois. They were being accused of receiving nearly $500,000 dollars in unemployment compensation fraudulently. In a news conference last month in Fairview Heights, U.S. Attorney Steve Wigginton said, "pure greed" was at the root of the problem. He continued to say that theft from a government benefits program in "crisis mode…personally disgusts me."

Of the 25 people indicted, six of them were indicted in federal court in St. Louis, while the remainder was being charged in East St. Louis. The majority of the indictments claim that the men and women were actually working during the time they were receiving tens of thousands of dollars in unemployment benefits, and that they were lying about their employment to state agencies. Two of the people indicted were receiving unemployment benefits while they were behind bars for other criminal convictions. One 30-year-old is a current occupant of the Menard Correctional Center, and he reaped $11,691 in benefits during the time that he was either in White County Jail or on work release, according to the indictment's claims.

Another man, a 44-year-old prisoner was in federal prison in Greenville on a methamphetamine conviction. While he was in prison, his girlfriend acting on his behalf maintained the ruse that he continued to be eligible for unemployment benefits and she sent a portion of the $13,463 he received to his prison account, according to the prisoner's indictment. When federal agents finally caught up to the federal prisoner at his home in Carmi, IL, he lied about the fraud and lied about the whereabouts of his girlfriend who was hiding in his home, prosecutors said.

The 11-month-long investigation was conducted by the Labor Department's Office of Inspector General, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service and the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Of the 25 people indicted, the ages range from 30 to 60. Most of those indicted come from St. Louis and the Metro East; however, one lives in Chicago and two others live in South Carolina.

U.S. Attorney Steve Wiggington said that the investigation is ongoing, and he warned those people that are abusing the system to stop what they are doing and turn themselves in. He also said that the prosecutors would be seeking prison time and repayment of the stolen funds.

Wiggington cited a Labor Department report, noting that in fiscal year 2011, $14 billion was overpaid in suspect unemployment insurance claims, representing approximately 11 percent of all benefits paid. Wigginton continued on to say that government benefit programs such as unemployment insurance are under constant attack, both by individuals like those indicted this week and by organized groups. He said that investigators are hamstrung by a lack of money for enforcement and protection of funds.

According to James Vanderberg of the Office of the Inspector General's Chicago Regional Office, many of those indicted may have been tripped up by a simple initiative matching unemployment rosters with reports of wage earners. Of the 25 people indicted, 19 of them were each charged with embezzlement of public Funds in the East St. Louis federal court.

The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley practices labor, employment and business law all throughout the state of Missouri. Attorney Kevin J. Dolley has won multi-million dollar and six figure jury verdicts and settlements and has successfully defended businesses and individuals who were accused of various forms of misconduct. Contact attorney Kevin J. Dolley to discuss your legal matter in detail.

Categories: Employment Law

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The Law Offices of Kevin J. Dolley represents clients in labor law, employment law and employment discrimination matters throughout the State of Missouri, including St. Louis, St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Boone County, Jefferson County, Lincoln County, Jackson County, Phelps County, Franklin County, Ste. Genevieve, St. Clair and the Cities of St. Louis, Kansas City, St. Charles, O'Fallon, Lake St. Louis, Hillsboro, Troy, Clayton, Rolla, Columbia, Jefferson City, Kirksville, Farmington, Cuba, Augusta, Union, Maryland Heights, Cape Girardeau and Springfield.

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